Why are you using RBI as a measure of talent?
Because driving in a run is a good thing?
Look, I don't want to get into another fight on this. I get that many stats show that Drew's skill set place him in the top 10 in the AL. But that does not mean that any stats that point out his less than elite skills are not worthy of recognition. It just means there's many ways to evaluate a player, some of which show his strengths, some of which show his warts -- and ultimately we judge players on the whole picture.
We went through this in the last thread, after which it generally was acknowledged that driving in runs is not one of his strengths, something Theo did in his WEEI interview.
This year it was sort of freakish how well he performed offensively and how few runs he drove in in the lineup. Start with the basic premise that that type of player is always going to be better at scoring runs than driving in runs in because while he does have a high slug, his on-base skills, those are his strengths because heís on base a lot and heís a terrific baserunner. Heís going to score more runs. When somebody who tends to walk a lot tends to drive in fewer runs than somebody who puts the ball in play a lot. In Drewís case heís an extreme because he walks at a tremendously high rate. .... Some hitters come out of their approach and put the ball in play in RBI situation and drive in runs and some hitters donít do that. Drew is the type of hitter who doesnít do it, and to be honest with you as an organization we donít mind if guys donít come out their approach. It might cost you not driving in runs here or there but in the long run, staying in oneís approach which is getting in a hitters count, getting a pitch you can drive and then driving that ball, and if not then taking your walk, in our mind thatís more fundamentally more important.
In other words, he was not good at driving in runs, nds he's below league average for percentage of runners driven in each of his Boston years. The stats also show why -- his BA goes down while his walk rate increases. That is a reason for his below-average production in driving in runs.
Now, Theo says that "not making an out" , a walk keeping the line moving, is just as valuable as driving in the run. The last thread did show that that theory is supported in most cases, with the probability of the run scoring later being increased by a walk, even if it is Varitek batting next (though Varitek's average makes it somewhat close
) More base runners lead to a greater likelihood of runs.
But the above ignores that driving the runner in is not a bad thing if you can do it. With a .400 OBP, it would be better to have a mix of .300/.100 rather than Drew's .240/.160 with RISP. (His BA/BB ratio becomes even more extreme in other RBI situations, such as 2 outs, RISP, where his BA/BB rate drops to .224/.195 see 3-year splits here
) Theo's response of not wanting Drew to change his approach in those circumstances doesn't quite address that he does seem to change his approach (he walks more), or, at least if he doesn't change his approach, his results change from his usual production in a manner that is counterproductive to driving runs in.
Finally, the Sabre crowd that claims Drew is one of the top 3 outfielders seems to have put stats ahead of every other point. I think any Fangraph formula that concludes Jason Varitek is worth $5 million this year, or that J.D. Drew's value is almost equal to the value of the guy batting cleanup for the World Series Champs just doesn't tell the whole story.
I don't want to revive the argument, because we already had that out. I learned a fair amount about theory on runs produced, and it confirmed the unsatisfying thing about Drew being unsatisfying in the sense that he is not the visible last link in run production -- he himself drives runners in below league average, but also confirmed the Drew supporters' view that his hidden value of being a link in the run chain.
The bottom line thing that is annoying to me -- I'll speak for myself -- is the smugness of the Sabre crowd in mocking anyone who points out Drew's faults as a player. Just check out the responses in this and the earlier thread, treating with disdain anyone who doesn't believe Drew is an elite batter, calling them Drew "haters" and attributing our argument to extremes of relying on flat earth RBIs or even Drew's lack of emotion. This is not a "flat earth vs. round earth" argument, it involves an understanding each stat -- something I acknowledge I don't completely, but also seeing the holes in each stat. For example, the WPA stat, I believe takes in the generic fact situation that a walk will add to a win probability regardless of the next hitter's particular circumstances. How does Drew's approach actually play out would require more drilling down. How does Drew's .240/.160 split with RISP actually play out?
Finally, another "intangible" is that Drew's production seems to change when they try and take advantage of his skill set. When they try and seize on his high OBP by putting him up in the top of the lineup, his OBP drops to below .400. (See the 2006-08 3-year splits, augmented even more by the more extreme 2009 splits
. When placed in the 5-6 spot in the lineup, his OPS is below .900.
And this leaves out the streakiness which has produced these results mostly in a couple of very very hot months.
In sum, the total package of stats is productive, very productive, compared to the competitors. However, I'd at least like to see a Sabre guy acknowledge some of the unsatisfying elements to his production, rather than trying to sell him as elite. A player is not just the sum of his numbers.
And with that, I'll bow out of this fight.